An ever-popular feature in U.S. newspapers is the nostalgia column, a recurring list of major events that were happening 10, 20 or 50 years ago.

We don't look back on a regular basis, but we looked back last week and discovered with a jolt that this is the 10th anniversary of TWA's third and final bankruptcy filing and the related plan by American to acquire the carrier's assets and maintain its St. Louis hub.

It's a reminder that a lot can happen in 10 years. TWA is gone, as is any pretense that American is operating a hub at Lambert, which handles about half as many passengers as it once did.

For a happier ending, nostalgia buffs could turn the dial back a mere five years, when that wounded giant, United Airlines, emerged from an exhausting three-year bankruptcy facing an uncertain future as low-fare carriers swarmed over its domestic network.

Today, as it proceeds with the process of strengthening its Star Alliance ties and integrating Continental (itself a survivor of Chapter 11), the United brand seems to have as bright a future as ever.

But on that note, we will forgo a 20-year look back at 1991 (a year of bankruptcy for Eastern, Pan Am, Midway, America West and several others) and return, with haste, to the present, which is looking better all the time.
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